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Publisher's Summary

This shattering drama of isolation and loss is one of the greatest tragedies in world literature.

King Lear of Britain has three daughters: the hard-hearted Goneril and Regan, and the good and gentle Cordelia. He determines to divide his kingdom between them, giving the largest share to she who can say she loves him the best. Lear's tragic lack of judgment and self-knowledge is paralleled by the blindness of the loyal Gloucester who is persuaded to reject his virtuous son, Edgar, in favor of the villainous Edmund.

Lear is played by Trevor Peacock and Gloucester by Clive Merrison. Penny Downie is Goneril, Samantha Bond is Regan, and Julia Ford is Cordelia. Edgar is played by David Tennant, Edmund by Gerard Murphy, and the Fool by John Rogan.

Public Domain (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks

Featured Article: 50+ Timeless Shakespeare Quotes


From knock-knock jokes to the wild goose chase, we owe many of our most-used and best-loved phrases to the talent of the Bard. His words are timeless in their direct wisdom, their witty humor, and their surprising applicability to modern life: its nature, its purpose, and its pitfalls. We’ve collected some of our favorite William Shakespeare quotes for when you want to think about life’s big questions, wax poetic on the nature of love, or just need a good laugh. Immerse yourself in these Shakespeare quotes to dive into the comedies and tragedies penned by the Bard of Avon.

What listeners say about King Lear

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tragedy par excellence

one of Shakespeare's finest. the cast did a great job. I almost shed a tear. do good while you can while you breathe.

11 people found this helpful

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Great way to “read” Shakespeare!

It always takes me a little while to fall into the rhythm of Shakespeare’s plays. With the audio book, I can listen for 15 minutes or so then restart from the beginning to take full advantage of Shakespeare’s words. The actors did a wonderful job and the man who played the King sounds like he could do voice over work for an anthropomorphized bear! A fitting voice for Lear! The recording sounded like it skipped a little in a couple of places but it wasn’t very distracting really.

5 people found this helpful

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heartfelt rendition pulls no punches

A profound performance on every level. Peacock at his best with an unforgettable and uncredited turn by David Tenant.

4 people found this helpful

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Incredibly Irritating

How could the performance have been better?

The actors in it all sound out of breath. There is somebody breathing heavily or smacking their lips with saliva every three seconds. It is so annoying. I don't know if it's for dramatic effect or the people who recored this do not know how to move away from the mic when they breathe.

Was King Lear worth the listening time?

This version was definitely NOT worth listening to.

Any additional comments?

Next time you record something move away from the mic when you breathe.

3 people found this helpful

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Inspirational

Shakespeare always gives you more than you bargained for. The sisters personify the contrasting elements in life, just as Lear symbolizes life itself.

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Compelling performance

Fine dramatization, as good as BBC. I really appreciated the Lear voice. Some weird "blop-blop" music is arresting...

1 person found this helpful

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Listened in preparation of seeing the play

This was helpful to listen to to prepare to see the play. It is a sad story with some lines that are very applicable to today.

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An Outstanding Production

Wonderful cast and production. I've never read it seen King Lear. This is a great way to experience the play. I recommend it!

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Can’t read Shakespeare but love the performance

Reading Shakespeare pains me to no end. It’s like reading operas. But listening or watching the performance makes it so much relatable. In fact I am not sure Shakespeare is meant to be read.

Metaphor, metaphor…all that is Shakespeare.

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My first Shakespeare anything

This was my first time listening to anything Shakespeare. The interlude noises were annoying, but the acting was spectacular.

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  • Kniphofia
  • 03-05-16

Heartbreaking

If you could sum up King Lear in three words, what would they be?

Humanity, godless, tragic

Who was your favorite character and why?

Edgar is one of the most difficult parts in the play, but David Tennant was very good.

What about the narrators’s performance did you like?

The whole cast was good.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Bawled my eyes out at the end.

Any additional comments?

The play translated surprisingly easy to audio. I've seen it many times in the theatre.

4 people found this helpful

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  • D. Oneill
  • 06-01-18

Excellent

Thoroughly convincing adaptation of Shakespeare's exploration of senile decline and corrupting power. The blinding of Gloucester was as shocking in sound as it is on stage. Distinct voices permit tracking of characters even for those who, unlike Shakespeare's devotees, might not be familiar with the play.

1 person found this helpful

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  • J. E.
  • 07-05-17

Excellent

Very pleased with the rendition. All the characters well-articulated and dramatized, no difficulty following (and appreciating!) the whole.

1 person found this helpful

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  • E. Alexandra
  • 07-29-22

IT HAS DAVID TENNANT IN IT

Why is that not on the cast list? He's absolutely brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed this but the parts with Tennant lit up my ears. Some of the storm sounds were a bit... well, Dirk Maags would have done it differently. Otherwise excellent.

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  • Kez
  • 03-08-22

Excellent performance

This is an excellent performance, the cast are all brilliant.
It is a harrowing and tragic story. It portrays a bleak world where justice, social order and kingship, all of which are strong values to Lear at the beginning of the play become undermined by the end. It offers no redemption or purpose and characters die without reason. It is a story of betrayal and eventually chaos and madness.

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  • Shades of Blue Q
  • 12-22-21

The Best

Simply the best production and cast I've heard ever of a King Lear play. Lear not my most favourite of plays but I did enjoy this production and cast. Thoroughly recommend this version.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-02-21

Excellent, entertaining, engaging

I am studying King Lear and found it extremely useful to read the play along with listening to this audiobook. The excellent performances from the narrators helps to bring the characters to life. The dramatised aspects, such as being able to hear characters entering by horse, or the sound of swords clashing makes the story engaging, as if you were actually there watching the play. Very entertaining, and even humorous at times, despite being a tragedy.

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  • Felicity
  • 06-26-21

Entertaining & Vivid

Great production which really brings the play to life. Everyone speaks clearly and their voices evoke the emotions of their characters. If you don’t know the play & don’t have the play in front of you, you may find that it’s difficult to follow who it is who is speaking at times, due to the nature of a play. If you know King Lear or have a script, you’ll be fine. Excellent. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful